teisipäev, veebruar 05, 2013

oh georgia

Estonia continues to support Georgia's aspirations to join the EU and NATO. So said Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves recently. Its accession to these organizations is up to the Georgians' ability to meet their criteria, and no external powers should influence these process, he said.

I do wonder about where Georgia fits into the post-2008 "global order." That is, until the heady year of '08, we were experiencing a dynamic of continued EU and NATO expansion, which logically could extend as far east as the leaders of these organizations saw fit. But economic crises, political crises, and, well, multiple crises have diminished that eagerness.

I also wonder about the psychology behind Estonian diplomacy, which appears to be based on pure principle, but could also be seen as the outcome of interlocking myths about Estonia's role in the world, such as "the little country that showed it could be done isn't about to keep anybody else down"  ...

Some interesting discussions with Georgian students yielded the information that Georgia sees EU integration in terms of attaining a higher status, and that it is not thought of in civilizational terms of hooking up with ancient Black Sea trading partners like Romania or Bulgaria (whereas the Estonians reconstructed themselves as a forgotten outpost of Scandinavia, which, quite naturally, was deserving of membership), and when they think about NATO, they think about the US and some stalwart allies, not their neighboring NATO-member country Turkey.

It's all just a bit too abstract for my unseasoned mind to grasp. Too many slippery concepts about status and democracy and corruption and whatever else you can throw at the wall. Expect the Georgians to live up to standards of organizations that are not met by constituent members? Be like us, but not like Berslusconi? And how are their oligarchs different from our oligarchs really? Do any of these big words still harbor any meaning?

Where's that Hemingway quote? Ah. There it is:

"There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates."

10 kommentaari:

Marko ütles ...

I never understood this Georgia madness by Estonian elites. During the occupation Georgians were considered to be somewhat 'lesser' people. A bit like the popular view on 'eastern' Europe in todays western Europe. Exotic, untained, unruly and chaotic. I personally think that they have every right to pursue their own destiny, whatever the reasoning behind their goals. But I do not understand the meddling, the fake smiles and false encouragement by the Estonian elites. There must be something else behind all this. I doubt very much that they have adopted Georgia as their new lapdog purely for aesthetic value. Why is Georgia a priority in foreign policy, whereas Karelia or even Belarus are not? Whats in it, for us? Is it potentially the magical goose, laying golden eggs?

Temesta ütles ...

Political conditions in Georgia and Belarus a very different. In Georgia there is wide support among the ruling elites for further integration with the West. In Belarus this is limited to a marginalised opposition. Belarus didn´t have something like the Rose Revolution. If a more pro-western ´party´would come to power in Belarus, there´s no doubt that Estonia would provide support, don´t you think?

Marko ütles ...

I suppose Estonia would support Belarus. Although I also think when they send their dictatorship packing, situation similar to Ukraine will arise and that might be too toxic to get involved with, as Belarus is geographically not too far away from us and might pose a threat to national security. But if Belarusians would adobt for pro-Kremlin democracy, or something of the sort, that might be something worth to support. Any pickering with the Russians would harm us, I think that's the reality we have to accept as we know too well from our own past where it might lead to. As it stands only Belarusians can help themselves, we can only accept their asylum seekers and refugees, maybe even cooperate within the fields of science or ptovide them with aid etc. But still, ehy Georgia? Maybe the conservatives are using it as a proxy? As if when the shit would hit the fan, they would then have a solid allay in the troubled and volatile region in Russias south? Just another card in the 'game'? Or are there any business opportunities there? Oil, gas, rare metals?

Giustino ütles ...

There is also the issue of Estonia's relative influence. Estonia can afford to take principled positions, while it's the Germans and French who have to think through the geopolitical ramifications of an EU or NATO Georgia.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

My understanding so far has been that Estonians are only backing Georgia to stick it to the Russians. Wrong?

Frankly, I'd side with the Russians if the push came to shove, but then again, it is not Georgians who give us daily trouble. Lucky for Georgians, they are far away. Allows people to imagine that they must be "like us."

Some friendships are easier to maintain with the nice distance between the parties involved.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

My understanding so far has been that Estonians are only backing Georgia to stick it to the Russians. Wrong?

Frankly, I'd side with the Russians if the push came to shove, but then again, it is not Georgians who give us daily trouble. Lucky for Georgians, they are far away. Allows people to imagine that they must be "like us."

Some friendships are easier to maintain with the nice distance between the parties involved.

Marko ütles ...

Fair point about influence. Devil is in detail, and if you observe Estonia from a distance, there's lots of it. Not just the status in the post-Soviet camp, but further afield - participation in unimaginable number of internationl organizations, global approach in energy field, from Jordan to US, the list is literally endless. Estonia does punch above it's waist, no doubt in that. But is that influence being used just to promote our values, or is it used to gain more influence? We must remember that countries, including Estonia, do not have sympathies, countries have interests. So, if I would be Georgian, I'd actually take a step back and think everything through once again. But then, what choice do they really have. Noone else is interested in their struggle and this might present itself to them as taking a huge leap of faith. I think as citizens we have to grill our politicians and business people more, to make sure that although our interests are of up most importance, anyone else would not have to suffer. Call me a cynic, but I do not buy this talk about helping to build solid democracy in Georgia. I'd like to see investigating journalism to get involved and to shed light on what are we actually pursuing over there? Whats the truth?

Temesta ütles ...

"Noone else is interested in their struggle and this might present itself to them as taking a huge leap of faith."

Georgia is an important country for the the transit of gas from Azerbaijan, bypassing Russia. It's geopolitical importance is much bigger than it's size or economy would suggest, do not underestimate this factor. Georgia did and does receive significant military and financial support from Western countries and organisations.

Unknown ütles ...

The devil is in the details indeed. Contrary to what Giustino wrote, I've read and heard in Eesti that Turkey is indeed valued as a partner in NATO. The Estonians don't forget that Turkey was positive to Estonia becoming a member of NATO, with a much stronger positive position than some other members.

About Georgia. I think this is only partially a question of principle. It does make sense to increase the buffer zone between Eesti and the eastern neighbour somehow, for example, with a more democratic Ukraine or Belarus. Kind of for the same reason that Germany wanted more democratic neighbours to its east, in order to buffer the Russians instead of having them in Berlin. My understanding is that someone like the US is propping Eesti to do their PR for them for 'democratization' of Georgia. Why are Estonian politicians so spineless towards China when it comes to the Tibet question? Perhaps because it's not demanded by the US. In my opinion, I think Eesti should not heed the US behind-the-scene calls regarding Georgia so much. I don't know, perhaps Eesti should if that means the US will put its muscle behind its words, as it seems to be doing by supporting Estonian defence plans against invasion, as well as development of Ämari. I would personally approve of US bases in Estonia, but then again that might be a delicate theme. US bases here would have prevented what happened in WWII, when Stalin demanded USSR bases. In fact Estonia wanted to remain neutral, but only certain rich guys managed to keep that status.

Marko ütles ...

I must agree with Unknown on this one. Although im not sure if US is the one we are doing the bidding for. What about this new found love with the French? They are flooding us with EU aid, whilist takinig spending cuts themselves. There is a whole new dimension to the Franco-Estonian relations. Just what if the new gas pipeline would be the basis for this new found love and eternal friendship? Of course im just speculating here, but questions of that nature are justified, in my opinion.

It might as well be that all the possibilities are true, perhaps we are promoting democracy and human rights, while making some money, gaining some more influence and helping out our partners to the east and west. Nothing wrong in that. Yet. I saw this documentary on BBC about the Rose Revolution, and the way Mr Shaakashvili conducted himself while storming the parliament. What on earth has this guy and Mr Ilves in common? I mean theres no common ground whatsoever with these people and the Estonians, and this raises those near paranoid questions about how sincere the Estonian interest in that region really is.

We heard some troubling news about Tunis, in recent days. What a shame. Arab spring really raised some expectations, now laid to dust. I was just wondering if Estonia could in any way help these people. It just shows how desperate they must be - having all their hopes and dreams invested in selected few individuals, and all it takes to crash thrm is a murderous madman. I feel for these guys and also appreciate how narrowly we managed to escape scenarios, so common in societies making a fundamental shift.